Editorial: Enforcing the Smoking Ban

By the Editorial Board Time to put it out

This semester, Skidmore instituted a new smoking policy on campus. The new policy bans smoking in the campus interior, within Perimeter Road. The Editorial Board appreciates this new policy and its implementation method, and urges the student body to honor the new rule.

Students agree that the ban has made a tangible difference on campus. The air looks and feels cleaner. Parts of the campus, especially Case patio and outside of Bolton are no longer palls of smoke. Students voice appreciation for being able to exit buildings without encountering a cloud of cigarette smoke. The Editorial Board appreciates the steps the administration has taken towards creating a cleaner campus environment.

Perhaps the most questionable aspect of the new policy is the community self-policing that will be the only method of enforcement for the foreseeable future. Rather than employing Campus Safety to patrol campus, looking to stop students from smoking and writing up offenders, the policymakers opted to trust the student body to enforce the ban.

This is a bold and potentially risky move and, most importantly, it allows the student body to dictate the rate and nature of our uptake of the ban. The Editorial Board supports this approach to policy enforcing and is confident that it will be effective, although probably won't completely stop smoking in prohibited areas. Had Campus Safety come out in force within the first few weeks of school, yanking cigarettes out of students’ mouths on Case patio and stopping smoking students on their way to class, there no doubt would have been a strong backlash against the ban. Students do not take well to being told what to do, regardless of whether they agree with the direction or not. By allowing the student body to acclimate to the policy on our own time, the administration ensures a far more positive end result.

What does self-policing entail? It can be walking up to someone to tell them to stop smoking, but we believe that self-policing is more effective in smaller, day-to-day actions. It is a student turning down the offer to smoke from their friend, on Case or walking to class. It is students opting, night by night, to not take a cigarette break outside the library, instead waiting until they cross Perimeter Road as they walk back to their apartments. The decision to sincerely adopt this new policy comes from a place of respect, especially for upperclassman who have spent the past two or three years smoking whereverthey please. We choose to live, study and play in this community, and the rules of the community have changed. And it is not as if this new policy was foisted upon us against our will. The policy, which originated in the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee, was proposed by a group of students, although the administration was simultaneously, but independently looking into the same manner. However, to truly legitimize the policy, it may have been in the interest of the administration, though SGA, to hold a referendum on the matter, although it was thoughtful to also send out surveys to garner student opinion.

The transition may be bumpy at first, but as the older classes graduate, smoking will cease to be an integral part of the Skidmore scene. Incoming freshmen classes will see less smoking around campus and, thus, fewer new students will pick up or increase the habit. In 2017, when the College revisits the policy, and likely rolls out a more comprehensive ban, the hope is that the student body will be prepared for such measures. To get to that point, though, everyone: upperclassmen, new students, staff and faculty must commit to considering others and the lasting effect on the health of future students that they can have. It is up to the current upperclassmen to choose respect for our community over immediate comfort and habit, time after time.

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